Archives For Apple

As our digital streamers have shrunk in size, placement options have increased. And I stumbled upon this clever little mount for my Apple TV.

The Innovelis Total Mount ($20) can be positioned in three ways – either bolted to your wall with included screws, Velcro strapped to a HDTV wall mount, or hung from your HDTV by clipping into the television vents. I opted for the vent mount, and I imagine most investing in this solution will do likewise. Innovelis kindly includes clips for various vent style (vertical, horizontal, circular) and I picked up a 1ft HDMI cable via ebay for $2.98, shipped.

appletv-hdtv-mount1

As you can see from the pics and video, the solution nicely cleans up the (minimal) clutter. I don’t have any overheating concerns and my Apple TV actually responds better this location as the remote IR bounces off the walls or ceiling en route to the set-top.

Based on my success with the Apple TV mount, I’ll be picking up a second… as Innovelis also produces one for the similarly shaped Roku 2. But my second 1′ HDMI cable won’t be sufficient, given the proximity of HDMI ports to preferred vent location on our larger living room television and I’ll be ordering a 1.5′ or 2′ replacement.

Amazon Instant Video streaming has landed on Sony’s PS3. And Tech of the Hub took the new service for a spin, finding it to be Amazon’s very best implementation, including the new “Recently Watched” and “Next Episode” tiles. Further, CNET’s John Falcone tweets this “cements the PS3 as the best all around home entertainment device.” While I’d probably give the nod to the Xbox 360, despite anachronistic annual service fee and lack of Blu-ray, Amazon Instant is both a welcome and unexpected offering on Sony’s flagship “gaming” console. As, not only does Amazon provide video-on-demand, but folks who subscribe to Amazon Prime ($79/year) are treated to unlimited video streaming, à la Netlifx. Sadly, there’s still no sign of Amazon Instant on mobile platforms beyond the Kindle Fire and their TiVo app continues to atrophy – lacking Prime capabilities.

hbo-go-appletv

Supposedly today is the day Xbox 360 owners will be treated to HBO GO. Unless you’re a Comcast customer. In which case you’ll likely be accessing HBO on demand content via the Xfinity app… as they apparently intend to own the experience. Likewise, while Comcast doesn’t offer a Roku app, they block HBO GO access on that platform out of hand. Apple TV, by comparison, features access to neither Xfinity nor HBO GO. Sort of.

Owners of the iPhone 4s, iPad 2, or new iPad are entitled to AirPlay mirroring capabilities — a feature Apple describes as allowing one to beam “everything” displayed on an iDevice to an Apple TV. Unfortunately, “everything” doesn’t actually include the iOS HBO GO app… which fails with an unclear error citing “HDMI video out.” However, a pair of Twitter pals (Bill, Mike) clued me in to a nice little workaround… for Comcast customers.

Via Comcast’s Xfinity app, subscribers with compatible iOS devices can beam any and all content — including HBO — to Apple TV. And, as you can see from the pic, it does work. To reduce distracting letterboxing, since your iDevice probably doesn’t share the same resolution and aspect ratio as your television, you’d want to employ your HDTV’s zoom function. No, this won’t provide anything close to Blu-ray quality. But I’d say it’s a reasonable hack for a subset of folks and various situations. For Android owners who’d prefer HBO GO on the big screen there’s always HDMI out.

bestbuy-ipad2

Looking for a bargain on possibly the second best 10″ tablet? When Apple introduced the third generation iPad, they cunningly kept the prior generation base iPad 2 in play… by dropping its price $100. And, at $399, the iPad 2 is a decent deal. Yet, for many, the new iPad screen is worth the $100 surcharge despite the additional heft and heat. But at $350 or $360 the dynamics may be more compelling, especially for folks on a budget or those anticipating limited tablet usage. MicroCenter is currently blowing out their iPad 2 inventory at $359.99.  As you can see from the pic above, at least one Best Buy is willing to price match – and a friend picked up two on the cheap. Should these supplies run out, Apple is offering refurb iPad 2s for $349. While some may not be entirely comfortable purchasing a refurbished product, having bought several Apple devices this way, I can tell you they’ve all been pristine – including our former iPad 1. Further, refurb Apple iPads carry the same 1 year warranty you’d receive with a new device.

(Thanks, Ricky Tan!)

tivo-iphone-update

TiVo’s fine iOS “companion” app sees a rather significant update today. And, while it doesn’t yet feature iPad “retina” graphics (coming soon), the oft forgotten TiVo HD and Series 3 owners should be quite pleased with their newfound ability to manage Season Passes. Speaking of Season Passes, we’re now free to continue using the app while reordering occurs. Some screencaps and additional details follow and the free app is available now via iTunes.

New features for iPad:
-Graphical full-screen Browse experience that makes it much faster and easier to find new shows and movies
-Collapsible folders

Other new features for both iPad and iPhone:
-Added “Keep Until I Delete” option for shows in My Shows
-Added recording options for shows set to record in the To Do List
-Create WishList for shows that aren’t airing right now
-Added My Shows, To Do List, Season Pass manager capability in Away mode for Series4 DVRs
-Added To Do List/Season Pass manager capability for Series3 DVRs
-Make Away mode more resilient to network drops
-Can use app while Season Pass recordings are reprioritizing

Multiple bug fixes including:
-Guide scrolling ahead by days
-Allow background music to continue playing while using the app
-Added new icons to My Shows
-Add live TV padding notification when recording a live event on TV
-Added Facebook single sign-on for easier Facebook login

Multiple performance enhancements and bug fixes

ipad3

I’m not the biggest fan of the 10″ tablet form factor, finding these devices can’t replace my  Kindle, smartphone, or laptop. In fact, I kept trying to turn our original iPad into a netbook… via Bluetooth keyboard. However, I do find that tablets make a great travel accessory and there is something alluring in having all of the Internet in one’s lap via such a minimalist package yet with a sufficiently large screen. But, in speaking of that screen, content displayed on iPad 1 was distractingly pixelated compared to my other devices. So when rumors surfaced last year that Apple would drastically bump the iPad’s resolution from 1024×768 I found myself quite interested… although highly skeptical. There hadn’t ever been consumer grade panels at these resolutions and I couldn’t imagine what it might do to iPad pricing. 9 months later we have our answer.

The “new” iPad, aka iPad 3 or iPad HD, features a fairly stunning 2048×1536 resolution – a pixel count significantly higher than our 1080p HDTVs… yet also in a significantly smaller package. Of course, Apple generally markets using more human terminology and they’re expanding the range of their “Retina Display” line to now include the iPad, as at normal viewing distances, most will not be able to discern individual screen pixels. Also significant is Apple’s ability to retain iPad 2 pricing, starting at $499. And I purchased the new iPad simply because I can comfortably afford the absolute very best mobile display. Whereas, the very best large screen television or projector remain out of reach for most. Driving home a point that, while historically the folks in Cupertino have been known to apply an “Apple tax,” the company has been so successful in recent years that they’ve hit a scale where they determine supplier pricing and drive down component costs – flummoxing their competitors who frequently seem to offer lesser products at higher fees.

The new iPad is quite functionally similar to its predecessor with the exception of the new screen and optional LTE connectivity. The rear-facing camera also sees a significant bump in performance but, for most, that’s wasted engineering and component costs – more attention should have been paid to the front-facing camera used for Skype or Facetime video communication. But, other than that (and a warm rear left corner), there’s not much to fault with the new iPad and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone in the market for a 10″ tablet. Not only is Apple’s hardware largely superior, their app ecosystem is unmatched. And, as I continue to wrestle with ways to use the iPad, I expect its utility to increase as software offerings mature. (In the 7″ space, it’s hard to beat Amazon’s $199 Android-based Kindle Fire and marketplace despite uninspiring hardware.)

As we’re all well aware, Apple introduced the “new” iPad yesterday. And, while I’m still not quite sold on the tablet form factor, I did place a pre-order. Primarily due the iPad 3’s integrated voice dictation capabilities and much heralded “retina” display — likely featuring more pixels than anything else in our homes. Although, I do wonder how long it’ll take app developers to maximize its potential.

During the marketing spiel Apple made several fascinating and dramatic proclamations. I’m not prepared to classify any as dubious, but it looks as if some could be comparing apples & oranges. For example, I was initially stunned when they said, “This new device has more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PS3.” Yet, after thinking about it, the factoid isn’t so surprising… and what exactly does it mean?

Other interesting points to ponder: Nvidia has taken  issue with the characterization of their competing chipset, utilized by some Android devices, and what exactly is a PCContinue Reading…